I found Jesus many years ago. To be precise, it was the Thursday before Easter when our face-to-face meeting took place, but our coming together did not occur in a typical place of worship or during a moment of prayer. Not even close. Instead, he appeared to me in a grassy median strip that divides the north and southbound lanes of I95.
Jesus, as the long-haired man identified himself to me, must have been working an undercover assignment from Heaven, and I say this because instead of what we’ve all seen in paintings as traditional attire, the man I encountered was dressed in a couple of old and ratty men’s dress shirts (one on top of the other), faded, grungy blue jeans, and
holy holey Chuck Taylor sneakers. Sure, his hair was long and wavy and his beard was like the one that’s familiar to us from the portraits we see of the Son of God. But something wasn’t quite right.
Being the savvy police investigator that I was, I began to pick up on a few clues that prompted several questions to begin scrolling across the marquee inside my brain. Questions that needed answering. Like… Why would Jesus speak with a southern accent? Why would Jesus address me as Captain? Was he current on his knowledge of rank insignias? Why would Jesus attempt to thumb a ride on the interstate? Why were his shoes wet? After all, there’s that “walking on water” thing. Why did his eyes dart from side to side instead of focusing on me? Was he telepathically watching an in-progress tennis match at Pearly Gate Stadium? And why did the man who once fed thousands with a couple of fish ask me for money so he could buy something to eat?
Needless to say, I was confused. So I questioned the man about his identity, treading lightly, just in case. Faith and that sort of thing, you know..
When I asked where he lived, the man’s lips split into a slightly cockeyed grin, exposing his front
teeth tooth. Another clue.
He said, “My son, I live everywhere. From mountaintop to the bottom of the deepest ocean. I live in the hearts of the saved and in the bodies of the damned.”
Okay, I admit, despite the obvious lack of oral hygiene, this was a bit spooky.
He continued. “I was baptized by John and I seek perfection in all men.”
The hairs on the back of my neck stood at attention. Could he really be …
“Captain, I’d like to go home. Could you help me?”
What’s this, I thought. Jesus needs my help? Is that even possible?
“Where is home … sir?” I couldn’t quite bring myself to call him Jesus. At least not this soon in our earthly relationship.
“I live at the crazy hospital in Petersburg, Virginia, Captain. I went for a walk yesterday and haven’t been able to find my way since.”
Well, that was a switch. Jesus telling me that he couldn’t find his way, when I’d been “lost” for a good portion of my life. “Sure,” I said. I’ll be glad to help you. In fact, I’ll call someone right now to see what we need to do to get you home. In the meantime, would you like something to eat?”
“Yes, my son, I would. Could I have a hamburger, some delicious fries, and a chocolate milkshake? That’s my favorite.”
“Sure you can,” I said. “Whatever you want.”
God bless you, son. There’s a place in heaven for you.”
I guess I’ll never know for sure, but stranger things have happened. At the very least, I shared a meal with a very humble man who, by the way, devoured his supper like it was, well, his last.